Belfast Telegraph

645,000 visitors a year goal for new Causeway centre

By Linda Stewart

The new Giant’s Causeway visitors’ centre could attract more than 645,000 people through its doors annually to boost tourism on the north coast.

That’s the prediction from the National Trust’s Giant’s Causeway project manager Graham Thompson, who believes that our most popular visitor attraction could buck the trend seen elsewhere across the province.

Visitor numbers at the Giant’s Causeway have been holding firm against a backdrop of falling numbers elsewhere over the past year or so, he said.

“The centre will have a very positive impact on the north coast — there will be more jobs, more identification of local product,” he said.

“The general thrust of promoting the Causeway as a must-see venue will help promote tourism and help regenerate the local economy. We hope to achieve baseline figures of 645,000 visitors per annum.”

The trust is on target to open the centre on July 2, but is hoping to push the opening date forward to June 27-29 — in time for the Irish Open.

Last night Tourism Minister Arlene Foster congratulated the National Trust on pulling out all the stops to bring forward the opening date.

“The summer is set to be an exciting time for the north coast.

“We have secured the Irish Open at Royal Portrush for the first time in almost 60 years and at the same time, the multi-million Giant’s Causeway visitors’ centre will be opening its doors,” she said.

It’s been a long road to this point since the original visitor centre run by Moyle Council was destroyed by fire in 2000.

And yesterday the National Trust, which now runs Northern Ireland’s most popular visitor attraction, revealed what tourists can expect to see when they reach those spectacular cliffs on the north coast.

Soon the spectacular view from the grass roof of the new Giant’s Causeway visitor centre will be one of the most celebrated on Ireland’s tourist trail — with 360-degree panoramic views stretching from Malin Head to the Isle of Islay in Scotland.

Visitors should escape the congestion that has dogged the centre in the past, with 400 parking spaces and a park and ride scheme already in place.

Factfile

Cost: £18.5 million

Jobs created: 320

Annual tourist target: 645,000

Proportion of concrete in centre that is recycled: 70%

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